Concert review: Anthony Hamilton at the Palace Theatre

Erica Thompson

R&B and soul singer Anthony Hamilton brought passion, praise and politics to an incredible performance at the Palace Theatre on Sunday.

"Since I was a child, at six [or] seven years old, I remember saying to myself, 'I'm going to be famous singing,'" Hamilton said in a phone interview prior to the show. "I guess God gave me that before he put me in the chute [and] sent me to my mom. And I never forgot."

Hamilton's love for his craft was on display at the concert from the opening number - "Save Me," from his new album, What I'm Feelin' - to the last notes of the final song, "So in Love," an older collaboration with singer Jill Scott. He seemed genuinely excited to perform each song, flaunting the dexterity of his impressive vocals. He eagerly interacted with the crowd and even broke out a few dance moves despite a leg injury.

One memorable feature of the show was Hamilton's tribute to singers that preceded him. He sang snippets of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing," Mother's Finest's "Love Changes," Prince's "Adore" and The Dells' "A Heart is a House for Love." Additionally, he put a Parliament-Funkadelic-inspired twist on his 2003 single "Comin' from Where I'm from."

He also highlighted his backup singers, the Hamiltones, who are now famous for covering hip-hop songs in a gospel style. They performed Drake's "Hotline Bling" and "Respek," an original song poking fun at rapper and Cash Money Records founder Birdman's infamous interview on The Breakfast Club radio show.

Another noteworthy moment occurred when Hamilton performed "Still," a more spiritual song from What I'm Feelin'. Sitting center stage in a white chair under a spotlight, he delivered a moving performance that also incorporated lines from one of his older songs, "Pray for Me."

"All of my surrounding people … are from the church," said Hamilton, who also called himself a "church boy." "We're Christians and we believe in God."

Hamilton performed two other songs from the new album - the title track, a throwback to doo-wop, and the upbeat lead single "Amen." Missing were more autobiographical songs like "Walk in My Shoes," which really embodies the theme of the album - a reflection on Hamilton's life journey, including a recent divorce.

"For a while the shoes was full and a song came out of them," Hamilton said.

He didn't get around to singing any of his classic hooks on hip-hop songs by artists like Nappy Roots or Jadakiss, but fans can expect new collaborations in the future.

"I was just in the studio with Young Thug a couple months back," he said. He also "put down some ideas" with Drake and has plans to work with Fabolous, Nipsey Hustle and Lecrae. He would also like to work with artists outside of hip-hop, like Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes.

"She was actually supposed to be on the new album, but we just couldn't get the timing together," he said.

With so many beloved songs, it was likely difficult for Hamilton to fit everything in the show. The audience expected and received hits like "The Point of It All" and "Charlene," during which it happily sang along.

The third standout moment of the concert was Hamilton's rendition of an older song, "Soul's on Fire." By incorporating police sirens, smoke and audio that referenced the 2015 Baltimore protests, Hamilton utilized the song as an opportunity to address the issue of police brutality in the African-American community. "Please, stop killing our babies," he wailed at the end of the song.

Hamilton doesn't believe that one has to be in pain to sing with soul, but he recognizes the connection people have with sorrowful music. "A lot of people are just drawn to heartbreak, pain," he said. "People want to hear that; I don't know why, though."

Hamilton's show, however, was very uplifting, which makes sense given one of the most important life lessons that he's learned.

"Keep believing even in the doubtful moments," he said. "Keep believing that it gets better."